- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 19, 2003

A new Time/CNN poll shows only a quarter of Americans believe that the economy will improve in the next 12 months and that public support for President Bush's economic policies is slipping.
The president's approval rating slipped from 55 percent in December to 53 percent this month.
The Time/CNN findings contrast sharply with the most recent Gallup Poll, conducted Jan. 13-16, which shows President Bush's job approval rating at 61 percent. Thirty-four percent of Americans disapprove.
The Time/CNN poll, released yesterday, found that 27 percent of U.S. adults foresee economic improvement in the next year, down from 35 percent in December.
The poll, conducted Jan. 15 and 16 by Harris Interactive, said 56 percent of Americans think the United States is in "deep and serious trouble," but 39 percent say the country's problems are no worse than usual.
The poll found an increase this month in the proportion of Americans who think the president is handling the Iraq situation poorly. It was 44 percent in last week's survey, up from 41 percent in December. The percentage of respondents who like Mr. Bush's handling of Iraq slipped from 50 percent to 49 percent in the past month.
The telephone survey of 1,010 persons aged 18 and older says that a slight majority 51 percent think Mr. Bush is doing a poor job handling the economy. That's the same as in December. However, those figures are up from 42 percent in August and from 28 percent in December 2001.
The poll found Americans split 46 percent to 46 percent on whether the president is doing a good job or a poor job handling taxes. Eight percent are undecided.
The total sample had an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent. So some of the changes are statistically insignificant.
In his weekly radio address yesterday, Mr. Bush discussed proposals he has put forward "to help workers, employers and investors across America" in these troubled economic times. The president's stimulus package will cost $674 billion.
He said his tax-cut plan could help small businesses, whose financial health is crucial for economic growth. He noted that small businesses create millions of jobs yearly and account for one-half of U.S. economic output.
"All together, the tax relief I propose will give 23 million small business owners an average tax cut of $2,042 this year. And I'm asking Congress to make those reductions permanent, so that America's entrepreneurs can plan for the future, add more employees and invest in our economy," Mr. Bush said.
Overall, he said, his tax cut proposals "will add nearly $59 billion to the economy in 2003 alone."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who delivered the Democratic response to Mr. Bush's radio address, called the president's $674 billion stimulus plan "bloated."
"Most economists agree it is not a stimulus package. It will not have any real immediate impact on the economy," Mrs. Pelosi said. She argued that a rival Democratic plan would provide a quick, short-term boost to the economy.


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